Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells of one’s own body which then invades normal tissues leading to death.
In the breast this is most commonly due to the growth of the cells lining the breast ducts and is driven by the female hormones Oestrogen and Progesterone.
Cancers commonly occur later in life with risk increasing with age.
There is a small number of women who may inherit genes from their mother which increase the chance of breast and ovarian cancers. Women who have close relatives having these cancers should therefore be more vigilant and follow the early detection program.
Some risk factors for breast cancer that we can control are
• Use of hormones as in oral contraceptive pills and in hormone replacement therapy
• Drinking Achohol
The American cancer society recommendations for the early detection of breast cancer especially for women above 40
• Monthly breast self examination
• Annual exam by doctor
• Annual mammogram/usg
Breast cancer is treated by four main processes
• Surgery to remove the tumor
• Chemotherapy to destroy any tumor cells that may have spread to the rest of the body
• Hormone therapy to block the hormones which help the cancer cells to grow
• Radiotherapy which destroys any tumor cells that may have been left behind after surgery.
Surgery involves removal of the whole breast and the lymph nodes in the arm pit.
HOWEVER WHEN CANCER IS DETECTED EARLY IT IS POSSIBLE TO REMOVE ONLY PART OF THE BREAST HAVING THE
TUMOUR AND SAVE THE REST OF THE BREAST!
Breast conservation surgery
Reconstruction of the breast and nipple /areola can also be done during mastectomy or after the woman becomes tumor free.